A loss to an Oklahoma City team that got beat by an NBA-record 73 points in its previous game might be the wake-up call the Detroit Pistons needed. But if the veterans can not help them beat the Thunder, what is the point of them being on the team?
There are losses and then there are ‘what the heck’ defeats. An 11-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder – at home – is one of those ‘what the heck’ moments.
Yes, the Thunder had reinforcements from the squad that lost, 152-79, to the Memphis Grizzlies in its previous game. Particularly having Shai Gilgeous-Alexander return helped their cause.
But an 84-point turnaround? That is a little hard to take. Particularly when the Pistons seemed to be kicking the stuffing out of the Thunder at the start. They allowed, and we emphasize ‘allowed’, a Thunder team ranked dead last (worse than the Pistons!) in points per game to put up 42 in the final period.
Even Cade Cunningham was ticked off afterward.
After doing so well in the first half (Detroit held a 13-point halftime lead), the team simply lost focus and a scrappy, and embarrassed, Thunder team took advantage. The game was nationally televised on NBA-TV, so it presented an opportunity for redemption to Oklahoma City after being a national joe the past couple of days.
Even though their record was not good, the Pistons, before this game, had always beaten the dregs of the NBA, like Jalen Green’s Houston team, Orlando etc. They haven’t beaten anyone else but, at least they were winning the (few) games they were supposed to.
That is why this loss to the Thunder was such a shock. You can say Detroit is young, but so is OKC. You can say winning is not that important right now for the Pistons, but one could also say the same for the Thunder.
Yes, Detroit was a bit shorthanded, as Hamidou Diallo and Cory Joseph did not play, and Kelly Olynyk is still out, but we are talking subs, even if top of rotation bench guys.
Someone not named Cade Cunningham has to also step up when the game is on the line.
If the loss to the Thunder is merely an aberration, and the Pistons go on and notch some wins, it can be chalked up as a learning experience. However, if this an indication that Detroit can not beat anybody, even the worst of the worst, then an alternative plan needs to be adopted:
Blow the whole thing up.
All Detroit Pistons players (not named Cade) should be available
Detroit general manager Troy Weaver wanted the team to have veterans to provide leadership, depth and keep them competitive while the young players learned the ropes of the NBA.
How is that working out?
What to do? Get rid of them. Anyone who can get you some kind of an asset (even a 2027 second-rounder) should be packing their bags and getting shipped out. They are not helping the team win, and young players now with the G-League Cruise, like Saben Lee, Jamorko Pickett, Chris Smith and Isaiah Livers can get some NBA experience.
The way the Pistons have smartly drafted under Weaver, even a late second round pick could turn into a decent player.
Would they struggle? Sure, but at least there would be a positive to it. Veterans getting beat by bad teams, is just old guys losing.
As for the Pistons starters. Unless Milwaukee calls and the name ‘Giannis’ is mentioned, Cade Cunningham is untouchable.
The rest? For the right price – sure.
We emphasize the right price. We are not giving away Saddiq Bey for a couple of second-round picks. Ben Simmons? Maybe.
Jerami Grant and Isaiah Stewart would cost a team a lot to pry away, but Weaver should at least be open to listen. Killian Hayes has little trade value, let him and Cunningham develop together.
If the losses keep piling up, and even the pretense of trying for the play-in tournament is gone by January, cleaning house, and getting what you can, would seem to be the next move.
We are not saying the future still won’t be bright, but the present might need a makeover.